Nancy L. Segal Ph.D.


Getting Into College: Twin Dilemmas

Unique factors affect twins at school.

Posted Nov 05, 2014

Twins face unique problems when it comes to college admissions. They include deciding if they should apply the same school as their twin, and deciding how applying to the same college as their twin might affect their chances for acceptance. It is unfortunate that very little data exist that would help them in these areas. In researching this issue, I discovered a web site Twiniversity that posted an essay from a mother of twins, describing her daughters’ college admissions experiences. I also discovered some anecdotal evidence from college admissions officers, as well as from twins and their families.

It turns out that most schools do not maintain official policies on twins and claim to evaluate applications on an individual basis. However, this may not necessarily be the case. Representatives from the University of Maryland, the University of Texas, Rice University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say that applications are considered individually. However, they also say that the schools try to accept or reject both twins. One admissions expert who works independently of any university claims that schools often consider twins as a unit (Kaplan, 2008). However, these comments are based on global impressions, not on systematically collected data. Also note that schools may not know which applicants are twins. 

Duke University does request that applicants note if they are part of a twin pair This practice was implemented because (1) if twins’ names or email addresses are similar then application materials for one twin might be accidentally inserted into the other twin’s file, and (2) some schools examine small differences between candidates, so a small twin difference might seem more important than it really is, causing one co-twin to be rejected.

Key issues for future research are (1) determining college admissions policies for twins at representative institutions, (2) obtaining accurate statistics on admission and rejection rates of twins, with respect to twintype (identical or fraternal) and gender, (3) obtaining statistics on the number of twin pairs who attend the same vs. different colleges, and (4) learning how college choices may change during their four years.

There is no one solution that will apply to all twins. Every pair needs to make college choices that best suit their needs and talents. Hopefully, additional information to help twins and their families will be forthcoming.

NOTE: This article was adapted from a longer, more detailed essay in the journal College-Age twins: University admissions policies. Twin Research and Human Genetics, doi:10.1017/thg.2014.66


About the Author

Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and the Director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton.

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